Social Media Security Tips and Tools to Mitigate Risks

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Updated: May 02, 2022
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Understand the principles of safeguarding adults

Safeguarding is protecting an individual from harm, neglect and abuse. This can be found in many terms, at any age.

As a Clinical Support Worker (CSW) you are responsible for safeguarding individuals. Your role is to look out for signs of harm/abuse within or around your patient and ask reasonable questions without raising any concerns. For example; If you see a patient has significant bruising in a particular area, you could ask questions such as ‘that looks sore, do you mind if I take a look’ or say ‘that’s a nasty bruise’ (to possibly start a conversation regarding it). You should always report any concerns to your line manager or somebody else you can trust. You must be vigilant in all aspects.

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Below are ten terms of abuse and their definitions:

  • Physical abuse – Where physical harm has taken place to an individual’s body. E.g. being punched.
  • Domestic abuse – Where there is a pattern in behaviours towards an individual to cause them harm. It’s usually in a form of a close relative or a partner. E.g. controlling them, violence, intimidation or emotionally.
  • Sexual abuse – Where an individual is forced into sexual activities, that they do not give their consent to. E.g. pornography or rape.
  • Emotional/psychological abuse – Where an individual has been repeatedly put down, so that they lack in confidence/self-worth. They tend to be reserved. E.g. “nobody loves you”.
  • Financial/material abuse – When an individual is taken advantage of, without their permission. E.g. using their money.
  • Modern slavery – When an individual is “recruited” by means of force, without payment. E.g. human trafficking.
  • Discriminatory abuse – Where an individual is penalised for not fitting into a particular criterion. E.g. A woman not being able to do something, because of her gender.
  • Institutional/organisational abuse – Where an individual is neglected where there is more than likely policies/protocols in place to follow. E.g. People spoken to with disrespect.
  • Self-neglect – Where an individual is unable to take care of their basic needs. E.g. feeding or personal hygiene.
  • Neglect by others – Where an individual is not being provided with basic rights. E.g. no food or left wearing dirty/soiled clothing.

Harm can fall into many categories, for example psychological harm or physical harm. It is a deliberate act of injury.

1) Ref. Restrictive practice is making someone do something they don’t want to do or stopping someone doing something they want to do.

Know how to recognise signs of abuse

Below are types of abuse listed with signs/symptoms you could associate with each one.

Physical abuse:

  • Bruises
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Untreated injuries
  • Cuts/grazes
  • Anxiousness/jumpy
  • Bite marks

Domestic abuse:

  • Low self esteem
  • Isolation
  • Intimidation
  • Signs of physical/sexual abuse
  • Anxiety

Sexual abuse:

  • Injuries around the genital area
  • Inner thigh bruises/marks
  • STD’s
  • Pain and discomfort
  • Quietness around particular people
  • Pregnancy
  • Blood stained underwear/under garments

Emotional/psychological abuse:

  • Low self esteem
  • Dramatic weight loss/weight gain
  • Anxiety
  • Low confidence

Financial/material abuse:

  • Financial difficulties/financially unstable
  • Anxiety

Modern Slavery:

  • Signs of physical/psychological abuse
  • Muddled stories
  • Quiet
  • Fearful (police in particular)
  • Little amount of personal belongings
  • Signs of neglect

Discriminatory abuse:

  • Withdrawn/isolated
  • Anxiety
  • Showing signs of anger and fear

Institutional/organisational abuse:

  • Withdrawn/isolated
  • Showing signs of anger and fear


  • Poor hygiene
  • Dirty/soiled clothing
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Bad living conditions
  • Hoarding
  • Malnutrition/dehydration
  • Untreated injuries

Neglect by others:

  • Poor living conditions
  • Malnutrition/dehydration
  • Dirty/soiled clothing

An individual may be more vulnerable to abuse for many reasons. Below are a few listed:

  • Age is a huge factor – If you are young, you are generally more vulnerable. This can open a whole can of worms for some individuals if they are in the wrong type of environment.
  • Homeless – If you have nowhere safe to live, you are extremely vulnerable because you are more inclined to accept somewhere to stay or someone to take you in and you could think you are ‘safe’ whereas a lot of the time, you would not be.
  • Lonely/no connections or support – If you have no family, friends or close relationships to anyone, you are more vulnerable because you lack support.
  • Mental capacity – If you have no ability to make decisions for yourself, you become vulnerable.
  • Limited knowledge/no education – Especially regarding sex education.
  • Disabilities – If you have disabilities you are sometimes more vulnerable because of the network you have around you.

Know how to respond to suspected or alleged abuse

If there are suspicions that an individual is being abused, then you should report it to your line manager immediately and follow your companies’ procedures.

If an individual alleges that they are being abused, then you should follow the same steps, being mindful not to jump to conclusions and immediately report it to your line manager and then take necessary action, by following your companies’ procedures. This could be contacting social services or reporting it where necessary. In extreme cases, you may be required to remove the individual from harm (as long as this does not put yourself in any danger).

You can ensure that evidence of abuse is preserved by leaving everything as it was (any evidence). Below are a few examples:

  • This could be the room that abuse had taken place in.
  • Clothing that the individual may be wearing at the time they were abused, encourage for it not to be washed or discarded of.
  • Take photographs on a protected device, of bruising/injuries.
  • Not cleaning or disposing of any weapons that may have been used.
  • Encourage the individual not to wash/bathe before any tests can take place.

Understand the national and local context of safeguarding and protection from abuse

Below are legislations, policies and systems that relate to safeguarding and protection from abuse and their roles.


  • Equality Act 2010
  • Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • Data Protection Act 2018
  • Care Act 2014

National policies can include:

  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • Care Act 2014
  • The Government Statement of Policy on Adult Safeguarding

Local systems can include:

  • Social Services
  • Police
  • CQC

Social Services – Their role is to safeguard and provide different services to families, children and adults (usually) within their home environment. They are normally designated a social worker who they can build a good relationship with.

Police – Their role is to have a legal duty to protect vulnerable individuals from abuse. Particularly anyone under the age of 18 years. They work alongside other agencies.

CQC (Care Quality Commission) – Their role is to monitor services to make sure they are meeting standards.

There have been many reports of abuse and neglect in care settings. Below are a few factors which were featured in a report written by The Guardian – ‘Winterbourne View abuse: report criticises authorities for failing to act’.

  • “Ban staff from sitting on people with disabilities to restrain them”
  • “Residents being pinned down”
  • “Slapped”
  • “Doused in water”
  • “Taunted”

2) Ref.

Sources of information and advice about your own role in safeguarding and protecting individuals from abuse could be any of the below:

  • Whistle blowers
  • Manager
  • Colleagues
  • Local authority
  • Knowledge centre (intranet)
  • Policies and Procedures

Whistle blowers are given protection under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.

3) Ref.

You should seek support in situations beyond your experience and expertise as soon as you feel uncomfortable and you believe you will no longer be a support to someone. You should reach out to someone who you know has more experience then you, or simply your manager.

Understand ways to reduce the likelihood of abuse

Abuse may be reduced by:

  • Working with person centred values – If an individual is fully aware of their own personal safety, that will contribute in reducing the likelihood of abuse.
  • Encouraging active participation – If an individual is active and takes good care of themselves, they are more likely to be confident and have self-esteem, therefore they are less likely to suffer abuse from others if they feel this way.
  • Promoting choice and rights – An individual has the right to make their own choices. As long as they have the mental capacity to make a decision, they will be able to do so themselves. They should know what something is to benefit them, compared to anything that is negative. Choices are a part of everyday life.
  • Supporting individuals with awareness of personal safety – If an individual is aware of personal safety, they will know the difference between this and harm/abuse.

It is extremely important that an accessible complaints procedure is in place, this can help to reduce the likelihood of abuse because there would be a procedure in place that needs to be followed. This means, individuals can complain against poor standards of care, with confidence that it will be followed up and monitored/actioned upon.

The likelihood of abuse can be reduced by managing risk and focusing on prevention by following the key factors listed above.

Know how to recognise and report unsafe practices

Unsafe practices that may affect the well-being of individuals are not following company procedures. This is information that all staff/employees should be aware of. For example:

  • Not following/keeping medical records up to date. Therefore, resulting in forgetting to give an individual the correct medication at the correct time.
  • Staff/employee’s moving an individual in a way that wouldn’t meet the company’s procedures. This could result in injury to the individual.
  • Giving an individual nutrition/hydration that they have previously informed they do not like/don’t want.
  • Withholding an individual’s property.

If unsafe practices have been identified, then they should be challenged immediately and reported to your line manager. Who should then follow company protocol and take the information further. Where it is possible without causing harm to yourself, you should remove any hazards/cause of harm to try and prevent anything further from happening.

If, in the unfortunate event that you have reported the matter(s) to your line manager and there still have been no changes to the unsafe practice then you are required to immediately escalate the matter to a more senior member of employment for help and advice or use the whistleblowing service.

Understand principles for online safety

Technology provides us with lots of useful tools, but it can also be dangerous and there are risks.

The use of electronic communication devices: Mobile phones, iPads, tablets, Laptops/computers and gaming consoles. How-ever they each pose a huge risk if they aren’t used safely, to reduce the risk you can use strong passwords, to lock your devices and be aware of anything you’re looking to download onto the device.

The use of the internet via electronic devices (listed above) is fantastic for finding out information through websites, videos, files and emails. How-ever you can reduce the risks by making sure you have safe and secure passwords. A safe and secure internet connection. Be aware of what you may download, and vigilant of phishing and hackers.

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The use of social networking sites: Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Tumblr (including many others). How-ever you can reduce the risks by making sure your accounts are on private. Not posting/storing any personal details publicly. Get permission from a parent/guardian if you aren’t the correct age to be using it. Restrictions saved to your account.

Carrying out financial transactions online is great to purchase items/facilities quickly and easily. How-ever you can reduce the risks by being vigilant as to whether or not the site you are using is genuine and also by not storing any card details/personal details onto the web.  

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Social Media Security Tips and Tools to Mitigate Risks. (2022, May 02). Retrieved from